Ring the Bells

I’ve been caught up in the melancholia of the world. Stunned, like many, by the US election. If any of my friends were on the celebratory side, please don’t tell me. Go hang out with your new pal, David Duke. The people who voted for Donald supposedly did it for the money. (They call it the economy, but, whatever.) I had this crazy idea that in spite of global warming, we were all moving forward. More grace in the world, forgiveness, acceptance, and a willingness to share with those less fortunate. To quote Donald Trump: Wrong.

At first, I felt a creeping dread, like I’d woken to the realization that the outcome of World War Two had been reversed. You Know Who was in charge. That’s how it felt. A certain resignation crept in after a while, and that dread, mixed with the passing of days, eventually watered down to a feeling of melancholy.

And then Leonard Cohen died. We were heading to a social a couple hours after I found out, but I couldn’t stop crying. We have a relationship, Leonard and I. I’d be in a certain kind of mood, and he’d explain things in a way that would make me feel better. In his unique, soulful voice, he described a world of love and loss that, strangely, always left me feeling cheerful. The  kind of singer you pictured sitting nearby while you waited for the bus.

He’d listen to all your sad musings, perhaps take a few notes. ‘Let me work on that and get back to you,’ he’d say. Then, you’d hear a song on the radio and realize he’d understood completely. That’s how he made me feel. He was the dutiful scribe to the darkest part of my heart. The saddest moments, the heaviest days. A singing poet who managed to unravel the mystery of my own feelings of loss, longing and bewilderment.

After a morning full of Leonard Cohen’s music, I’ve decided to give The Donald some  time to get it right. We all make mistakes. We say thoughtless, hurtful things. When my husband, who has been living with cancer, got the good news of his chance for radiation, I said, without a moment’s hesitation, ‘Darn. I’ll miss two whole weeks of choir.’ My family stared at me in shock. The next words out of my mouth were, ‘I can’t believe I said that out loud.’ It would take at least four of Leonard Cohen’s roadies to remove that large foot from that big mouth.

As Leonard said, while waiting for the bus with me, ‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’ ‘Whoa,’ I said. ‘That’s heavy.’ But true. When we break, we find opportunities to change. When we make mistakes, say the wrong thing, wound people, the hurt has a way of ricocheting back. But that’s a good thing. Some of us need only the smallest of cracks to let in a bit of light. Some need a gaping wound. Whatever it is, and however it happens, I pray that Donald Trump sees the light. It can’t be fun living in the dark all the time. Even when you’re winning.

So, President Trump, I’ll leave you with this last conversation I had with Leonard. My two sources of melancholy seem suspiciously well timed, as if our beloved singer and poet couldn’t bear to be in the world any longer.  Heed his words, Donnie boy. Sit down on a park bench from time to time and mull them over.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Maybe purchase his albums. You might learn the lessons a whole lot quicker.

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